Thursday, May 20, 2010

Three Keys to Recovery Success: Re-focus Your Efforts to Outperform Your Competition
Denise HarrisonVice President, CSSP, Inc.

Recently I was talking to a company president - he was frustrated that a large project was off track. What happened? Well, during the recession, his team bid on a significant contract for a large company; the contract included requirements that were a stretch for his company. Traditionally the team focused on the small to mid-sized businesses, but during the recession they decided to bid on this contract in order to bring in additional revenue. The result? Resources were being pulled off other projects to meet these requirements, and unfortunately the large customer was not happy because the project was not progressing smoothly. Even worse, the smaller traditional customers were unhappy because resources normally available to them were working on the large project. Has the recession caused your company to take on business that is pulling you away from profitable business?

Re-focus Your Efforts
Yes, during a recession it is easy to look at any business as good business. But often companies take on business that does not leverage their competencies and/or causes it to misallocate resources. This new business may cause resources to be spread too thinly, working on projects that may bring in revenue, but are not profitable, or, more critically, divert resources from core, profitable customers. In order to emerge from the recession in a strong position, it is important that you take the following three steps:

Re-assess what your company does well: "Know thyself"
Understand where your competencies are: what are those skills, processes and knowledge that are most valuable to your customers?
Know what your company does do well, and what it does not do well, so you will concentrate on serving the customers who value what you do not only during the recession, but for the long term.

Identify market segments or customer groups that you currently serve - and focus on the ones who value what you do well: "Cherish thy core"
Do these segments/customers select your company because they value the things that you are good at doing? These are the customers that will be profitable.
Or are there some segments/customers that simply came to you during the recession when you were trying to get business - any business to shore up the top-line. Re-focus on the profitable segments.

Once you have identified the segments that value your competencies then look within the segment and identify who the winning customers will be during this recovery: "Know thy customers"
Customers who were doing well before the recession may not be the same ones who are doing well after the recession.
Some customers within these segments are not positioned to grow during the recovery. Many have taken cuts that will not allow them to take advantage of the recovery. Others are still hurting financially.

Industries may have changed and requirements for gaining market share may have altered - different companies make take the lead. Look at how the landscape in the financial industry has changed - some market participants are gone - others merged with more successful companies. Identify who the winners will be during this recovery.

Often recessions cause you to de-focus your efforts. As you develop your strategy for the recovery make sure your team re-focuses its efforts so that it is concentrating on leveraging the competencies that you have and that your customers value. These will be the segments and customers that will allow your company to grow profitably during this recovery. This renewed focus will allow your team to outperform your less disciplined competitors who are still chasing business, as if any business is good business.

Denise Harrison is Vice President at the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. She can be reached at:

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Strategic Planning: When Good Goals Go Bad
By Denise Harrison, Vice President

“As the housing market collapsed in late 2007, Moody’s Investor Service, whose investment ratings were widely trusted, responded by purging analysts and executives who warned of trouble and promoting those who helped Wall Street plunge the country into its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.”[1]

Banks failing, real estate loans made to people who did not have the means to repay them, institutions using derivatives without fully understanding the risk - what happened? Were executives just trying to meet their short-term goals? Did these goals enable them to qualify for significant bonuses? Did this achievement of short-term goals lead to long-term instability?
Many of the financial institutions currently in distress did not pay heed to the warnings of a real estate bubble. Instead many institutions developed plans to keep the top line growing in spite of the increasingly risky nature of the borrowers and the overvaluation of the underlying collateral.

Could this have been prevented?

Well, hindsight is 20-20, but the lessons here are important and should be a part of your strategic planning process:

  • Evaluate external forces - (e.g. is there a bubble?) Are your goals consistent with the external environment? How are you positioned if the bubble bursts in 1 year? 2 years? 3 years? Are you making the na├»ve assumption that business will continue to grow? Do your goals explicitly take risk into consideration?

  • Are top line growth goals in line with long-term stability and profitability and perhaps survival?

  • Are you not investing in key projects in order to make the top line?

  • What will the consequences be if you do not invest? Will it impact your long-term growth? Will your phone system go down if you do not invest?Will you have a safety issue if you do not continue with training?

  • Will you have inadequate staff for the upturn if you do not replace key positions now?

  • Are you taking on customers who are a time sink in order to make your top line?

  • Are you using the right metrics? Are you measuring success from a customers’ viewpoint? (If you are UPS should you measure package delivery or package receipt - i. e. did the addressee really get the package?)

During economic turbulence, be sure you set realistic goals that do not jeopardize your company’s long-term viability. Position your team and your company for the recovery by setting reasonable targets that are not solely focused on short-term results.

[1] “How Moody’s Sold Ratings and Sold Out Investors”, Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspaper, October, 2009.

Copyright 2009 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI -- Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

Denise Harrison is Vice President of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. She can be reached at: .

Monday, October 19, 2009

Acquisitions: Developing a Successful Integration Process
October 6th, 2009
By Denise Harrison, Vice President

At the conclusion of the due diligence process you should have at your finger tips a great deal of knowledge concerning the acquisition target. At this point you will be making a go/no go decision. If the decision is a “go,” you have the information that you need to start your integration process if you decide to move ahead with the acquisition. You now know where the strengths and weaknesses are and where the differences are in policies and procedures. You also have an idea of what the organizational structure will look like once the acquisition is completed. But you can not develop the integration plan in a vacuum; you need the buy-in of the key players of the acquisition target.

How do you get their buy-in?
Look to the future to help determine integration priorities
Instead of getting into the details first, we find it is important for the key players on both teams (acquiring company and target) to have a similar vision of where the industry is going (Industry Scenario) and what the key characteristics are of the winning company (Winner’s Profile). If you start with the big picture, often the details fall into place and the priorities become more obvious. Another option, if time permits, is to develop a full strategic plan.

What about risk?
In the due diligence you develop Threats to the business - but you should do this as a joint team and assess which of the threats has a potentially high impact and a high probability. The combined team should discuss different ways of mitigating the risk.

Now for the details
Once you have a big picture view of the industry, have developed the key characteristics of the winning company and have assessed threats, you are ready to discuss the Acquisition Issues that arose during the due diligence process. What topics need to be addressed? At this point, you will spend time looking at the issues that arose from the due diligence - both teams need to be involved in developing solutions. In addition, you need to develop other aspects of the integration plan: Communication - what will it look like to the employees of both companies? What will we tell our customers? What will we tell our suppliers? Are there any policy and procedure changes we need to make as we go through the integration process? What is the transition plan for the health care plan and other employee benefit plans (e.g. 401k)? How are we going to transition the financial system so that we are all working on the same system and there is transparency in the numbers? What do we need to do to get the other business systems working together?

At the end of the Acquisition Issues discussion you need to determine what the key implementation Objectives are - the key projects for the next 30, 60, 90 days and the plans that need to transition over the rest of the year. You will need to set and communicate goals so that people understand what targets they are shooting at to achieve success.

Now you need to discuss the detailed plan with the owners of the business - ideally they have been involved in its development - but still you need to check back and make sure they are fully bought in - otherwise this can be a deal-breaker. This means you need to be brutally honest about what is going to change after the acquisition is complete. A financial forecast is a must - and this too must be agreed to - you must have a clear understanding of what the numbers will look like during the integration phase. You must have agreement on the integration plan and the financial forecast before you close on the deal.

In addition to the integration plan you need to think through how your company will add value to the acquisition target - because if there is no value-add, this probably is not a good acquisition.

After the closing
The first two quarters will be the most important in terms of getting buy-in from the acquired company. If this is the case, why do so many companies miss the importance of this time period? A common mistake is putting all the energy into “doing the deal” and then not focusing on the integration process in the “after deal let-down”. This lack of focus can seriously impact the success of the acquisition. The newly acquired team needs to know that they are now part of a new team and that they are appreciated for the capabilities that they bring to the table.

During the initial period after the closing
Set-up a meeting before the month-end closing to make sure that the financial accounts have been properly transferred to the financial system. Check on progress for the integration objectives - is anything veering off-track? Can you get it back on track or do we need to reset expectations? Get into this routine right away - this will help prevent large surprises down the road. Try to get the acquisition target onto your financial system within the first quarter after closing - then the numbers should be much more transparent as everyone is working with the same system.
Make sure that you have sufficient resources allocated for the integration process - providing support and follow-up as required by the integration objectives. Often people do not allocate enough of these resources and the acquisition drifts and small problems grow into crises. There should be as many, if not more, resources dedicated to the integration process as you had doing the due diligence.

In a vacuum rumors spread both within the company walls and outside in the marketplace- make sure the acquiring company team is visible - talk about what is going on and what is going to happen - even if it is unpleasant. Hiding information does not make the bad news go away.

Monthly: make sure the integration objectives are on track
Quarterly: do a deep dive into the financials - are there any red flags?
After one year - release the escrow - there should be not major surprises after 12 months - unless you have not been involved. Monitor your key metrics:
- Are you meeting your financial targets?
- Are you retaining the key people?
- Has the acquiring company added value to the acquisition?
- Would you do the deal today if you knew what you know now?

Integration is a complex process and each deal will generate different objectives. We have found that, if you agree on a shared industry vision and the characteristics of a winning company, the priority objectives become clear to the teams on both sides of the table. Integration objectives and goals will flow from the common industry vision. This is not to say there will be total consensus - there still will be some difficult times, but this will get the team on the path to a successful integration process. This integration is often neglected during the after deal let-down, but if your team focuses on integration and resources are allocated to make the process a success, your acquisitions will be more successful. Remember, more the 80% of acquisitions fail to live up to management expectations.

Integration Process - Option 1 - 2-3 Days
This process can occur either before or after the transaction is completed, ideally before.
1. Industry Scenario
2. Winner’s Profile
3. Strengths and Weaknesses
4. Threats
5. Acquisition Issues
6. Objectives
7. Communication
8. Monitoring Process

Integration Process - Option 2 - Full Strategic Plan - 3 Months
1. Situation Analysis
2. Strategy Formulation
3. Implementation

Some Case Studies
Wyeth: Traditional Pharma vs. Bio Tech
During the mid-1990’s WyethPharma developed a vision of the pharmaceutical industry, in their scenario they saw that traditional pharmaceutical development would not be as fertile for opportunities as a biotech approach which mimics what actually occurs in nature. Understanding that this technology would foster significant future growth, Wyeth faced the decision to build from scratch or buy. The Wyeth team decided that an acquisition would be faster than building from scratch and they acquired two companies: Genetics Institute and American Cyanamid (now Wyeth Biotech). Wyeth did not hesitate - they jumped in with both feet with a significant investment to fund these acquisitions. During this timeframe many other pharmaceutical companies dabbled in biotech but dabbling did not position these companies for success. A decade later Wyeth is still reaping the benefits of its investment decision - the biotech industry is blooming. Their success has lead to their acquisition by Pfizer.

Some Insight into the Wyeth Integration Process[1]
Wyeth used strengths and weaknesses analysis to help determine “best practices”. Often this analysis leads to the acquiring company bridging areas of weakness in the acquired company but not taking advantage of the strengths of the acquired company. WyethPharma saw that WyethBiotech needed to understand market needs and market niches early in the development life cycle to ensure that the resulting drugs would have commercial viability. This moved WyethBiotech from developing drugs looking for a problem to solve, to seeing a market need and solving it by developing a drug.

What was unusual is that WyethPharma identified some strengths within WyethBiotech that would help its traditional pharmaceutical business. It is unusual for an acquiring company to learn from its acquisition. WyethPharma made changes in two key areas:
1. Pay for performance culture
2. Flexible manufacturing, by focusing on using a small number of processes in the production of pharmaceuticals rather than a unique process for each drug.

So, during the implementation process it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses that both parties (each party) bring(s) to the table and to capitalize on the strengths of each to develop “best practices” that are a combination of the best from both companies.

Pharmaceutical Company uses a Full Strategic Plan for Go/No Go Decision
Another pharmaceutical company was looking to buy its supplier of excipients. These are the compounds that allow for the time-release factor in drugs (e.g. your 24 hour tablets). The team wanted to develop a full understanding of the supplier’s business before making the final decision. So teams from both the acquiring firm and the targeted firm set forth to develop a strategic plan. Over the course of three months the two teams went through the Simplified Strategic Planning process including:
1. Situation Analysis
2. Strategy Formulation
3. Implementation

During the process, the acquiring team developed an in-depth understanding of the business including details about the markets served and the competitive environment. They also had a hand in developing and understanding the possible opportunities for the target company.
At then end of the process they decided to go ahead with the acquisition. Having the strategic plan in hand, they had an integration plan in place and they had developed a good working relationship with the target company senior management team. After finalizing the transaction the team kept the strategy on track through the monitoring process, ensuring a smooth transition.

[1] ” Wyeth’s Multibillion-dollar Biotech Bet”, by Elizabeth Svoboda, Fast Company, January 14, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

How Can Smaller Companies Compete and Win?
Denise A. Harrison
Vice President

Smaller companies often feel dwarfed by the giants in their industry, especially during tough times. Often industry giants are better at weathering economic downturns with their wide array of resources. But Arena Resources’ strategy not only allowed the company to survive this economic downturn, but turn in exceptional performance – better than the industry leaders. Arena Resources, a small oil exploration and production company, has less than 2% of the revenue of the industry leaders (Shell, Exxon Mobil). In addition, very few industries have had to endure greater fluctuations than the oil industry with oil price highs of $147 per barrel in July, 2008 and lows of $30 per barrel in December, 2008. How did Arena Resources make it onto the Fortune list of fastest growing companies (#8) in spite of this industry turbulence?

The Road Less Traveled

Arena Resources chose not to compete directly with the industry giants, instead it focused on oil production assets in the southwestern United States that were no longer attractive to the industry Goliaths. The cost of drilling and producing oil in this region exceeded what was acceptable in the larger companies’ financial models; these companies prefer to concentrate their resources on exploration of large oil fields with large potential. When Arena purchased land in this region (approximately 11,000 acres), the land produced 200 barrels of oil per day. Arena knew through its research and evolving technology, which through investment the land could be more productive. Through Arena Resources’ focused efforts this land is now producing 6000 barrels per day. The company does pay a high cost to produce a barrel of oil - almost $35 per barrel, so when oil prices decline significantly, profitability plummets; but when oil prices are over $60 per barrel the company makes a nice profit. Arena is betting that the price of oil will remain over $60 per barrel for the significant future. The high cost of production and the relatively small output is not attractive to its behemoth competitors, so this strategy to take the road less traveled allowed Arena Resources to grow profitably without going head-to-head with the major industry players.

What about Your Company's Strategy?

Many companies decide to compete in markets that are attractive, even though larger competitors with greater resources are already firmly entrenched or aggressively pursing these markets. Going head-to-head with industry giants often drains the resources of a smaller player with little forward progress in their market position. Are you going after the attractive markets that set you in direct conflict with industry giants? Are there niches that you could pursue that are not interesting to the larger companies? As you develop strategy your team should consider:

1. Market segment attractiveness (including growth and profitability)
2. Your competitive position in a market segment - what is the competition’s market share? Are competitors already firmly entrenched?

a. What other companies compete in this segment? In this case companies like Exxon and Shell focus their resources on exploration, looking for the big prizes. Arena focuses on production, but the production increases that are attractive to Arena Resources are too small to concentrate on from a larger company’s perspective.

b. What are the competencies required to compete this market? Do we have them? Are there strategic competencies that give us significant differentiation? In Arena Resources’ case, its competency is secondary recovery from known oil and gas resources – little exploration risk but a requirement for execution excellence. Their competency comes from their knowledge of the geology in the basin in which they work, combined with their technical skills in secondary recovery.

In order to compete and win, you must consider both market attractiveness and the competitive landscape of all of your market segments before you select the ones on which you will focus. You will often find a segment that is smaller has less competition and will provide your company with significant growth and profitability. In strategic planning selecting the road less traveled may be a key ingredient to your company’s success.

Copyright 2009 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI -- Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

Denise Harrison is Vice President of Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. She can be reached by email at

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How Does Strategic Planning Deal with Seismic Changes in an Industry? By Denise A. Harrison
Vice President
Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.

It is often argued that strategic planning processes miss industry shifts due to a myopic focus on existing customers and market segments, as well as existing products and product lines - but is this correct? NO! While market analysis and customer segmentation are important to any strategic plan, it is paramount for the process to look outside the existing business for opportunities and changes that will have significant impact on your business. In addition, it is essential for your team to develop a scenario for your industry looking out beyond the planning horizon; looking at trends that will emerge 5-10 years in the future. This allows the team to identify industry shifts - disruptive drivers (e.g. technology, demographics, regulations, lifestyle changes) which might transform your industry. How does this work? Let's look how Wyeth Pharmaceuticals addressed a structural shift in the pharmaceuticals market. Next we will look at how Clorox used trends to identify new growth opportunities.

Wyeth: Traditional Pharma vs. Bio Tech¹

During the mid-1990s Wyeth developed a vision of the pharmaceutical industry. In their scenario they saw that traditional pharmaceutical development would be less fertile for growth opportunities than the emerging biotech approach. Understanding that this new technology would foster significant future growth, Wyeth faced the decision to build from scratch or buy. The Wyeth team decided that acquisition would be faster than building from scratch and they acquired two companies: Genetics Institute and American Cyanamid (now Wyeth Biotech) which had the intellectual capital that Wyeth did not have resident inside its own company. Wyeth did not hesitate; they jumped in with both feet with a significant investment to fund these acquisitions.

The Results

Wyeth correctly anticipated the benefit of the biotech approach to developing drugs and now WyethBiotech is 45% of their business. A decade later, Wyeth is still reaping the benefits of its investment decision - the biotech industry is blooming and profits at Wyeth (2008) are up 12%. Many other pharmaceutical companies dabbled in biotech but dabbling did not position their companies for success. Now, these companies are playing catch-up: Eli Lilly purchased ImClone in 2008 and Roche is purchasing the rest of Genetech. Recently, Pfizer made the decision to purchase Wyeth so that it, too, can get into the biotech and enhance its pipeline.

Clorox Capitalizes on Mega-trends² to Fuel Growth Strategy

Clorox identified to two key trends when it defined its growth strategy: consumer focus on health and wellness, and environmentally friendly products. The recognition of these trends resulted in the acquisition of Burt's Bees® natural personal care products, the launch of Green Works® natural cleaners, and repositioning the Brita® brand as an alternative to bottled water, thus positioning Clorox as a more environmentally friendly company. It took an acquisition and new product line launch along with product repositioning in order for Clorox to capitalize on these trends. Like Wyeth, Clorox made significant moves rather than taking a "wait and see" attitude.

Challenging the Status Quo

Is your strategic planning process allowing you to challenge the status quo? Do you look for opportunities outside of the box? Do you look out beyond your planning horizon to evaluate industry shifts or new competitors? If you are able to see trends before your competitors, you will leapfrog the competition by positioning yourself to meet the needs of emerging markets. Remember, what made you successful today may not be the key to success tomorrow - it is important to anticipate future industry shifts. It is essential to look five to ten years in the future and develop an Industry Scenario and Winner's Profile as part of your strategic planning process. These two steps will enable your team to identify shifts that will significantly impact your business and allow your team to develop a strategy to meet these changing industry conditions.


¹"Wyeth's Multibillion-dollar Biotech Bet", by Elizabeth Svoboda, Fast Company, January 14, 2009

²"Clorox Updates Investment Community on Centennial Strategy to Drive Long-term Growth", Press Release, June 11, 2009.

© Copyright 2009 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. Ann Arbor, MI -- Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Use the Recession to Trigger Rejuvenation: Develop a Strategy to Revitalize your Company

by Denise A. Harrison, Vice President

Rejuvenation linked with recession? How can that be? It certainly causes pain - but where does this rejuvenation come from? During the 17th century Dutch economy collapsed - the tulip bubble burst - this was when a tulip bulb could cost as much as a house. But rather than resulting in Holland’s demise, the crash ushered in the Golden Age where this tiny country became the wealthiest nation in Europe.

Why do turbulent times generate growth and rebirth? It is during tough times that management teams often make decisions which are difficult. Often these decisions should have been made earlier, but when times are good it is often difficult to make changes that are painful.

Recession - a Burning Platform

When times are good it is difficult to precipitate change in an organization, so you require a burning platform - a dramatic event - which forces your team to focus on transformational solutions which are not palatable when times are good. It is these transformational changes that allow your company to survive the recession and position it for future growth. So, how do you and your management team go about using the recession as a burning platform to develop a rejuvenation strategy? One technique is: take a clean sheet of paper.

Clean Sheet of Paper

Ask your team to think about what your company would look like if you were to start the business from scratch knowing what you know today. Have your team work in small groups and bring back their best thinking. During turbulent times, (this could be a recession, a regulatory change, a challenging competitor or any other market turbulence) you will find that the groups come up with insightful ideas if they are thinking about starting the company from scratch. Now, while there may be some things you cannot change, there will be many areas that need to be restructured in order to survive this recession, but also to be positioned to grow when the upturn comes.

One team embarked on this exercise and found that they needed to close a regional office - the customers had moved out of the region and the office probably should have been closed several years ago. Now, with a burning platform, the team was ready to make the decision. In addition, they found that multiple regional offices with a full complement of staff were no longer necessary. Two to three super-regional offices could support satellite offices. The super-regional offices were fully staffed while the satellite offices could work effectively with a small sales and support staff.

Another area targeted for improvement was inventory management. Times had changed and suppliers had moved offshore - the team needed to rethink the process for ordering inventory. They saw that, if they started the company from scratch, they would centralize the purchasing function - by doing this they would increase inventory turns 5 times.


You and your management team should use the recession as a burning platform to make the decisions that were avoided during prosperity. One way to think through what decisions make sense is to have your team think about what the company would look like if you started it from scratch. This will let the team think through what the organization should look like given what the business is like today - this will allow you to think through whether or not your legacy systems still make sense in today’s environment.

Denise Harrison is Vice President of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. She can be reached at

© Copyright 2009 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI -- Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Board Involvement in Strategic Planning
Three Key Areas to Consider

By Denise A. Harrison, Vice President, Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.

How should the Board be involved in strategic planning? This is a frequently asked question. The key objective of strategic planning is to identify the sound course and direction for the organization that optimizes the organization's future potential. Setting the strategy is the responsibility of the senior management team -- the team is responsible for the success or failure of the strategy. This team is close to both the customers and the internal workings of the company and is best suited to determine the course and direction for the company.

How can the Board play a role?

While the Board is not responsible for setting strategy it can often give valuable input before the strategic planning process begins and act as a sounding board as part of a review process. Hence, the Board can play an important role during several steps of the strategic planning process:

Before the process starts -- the Board gives guidance including an overview of future environment along with specific opportunities and issues to be considered during the strategic planning process. The Board will often have a broader vision, enabling the team to consider more choices before selecting the optimal course and direction.

After strategy development -- the Board provides a review function; review of the strategy to make sure that it is internally consistent and that there are concrete implementation plans for key strategic objectives.

During the year -- the Board should monitor progress to ensure the strategy stays on track or changes when business conditions necessitate change.
Some Boards participate in all three steps -- others in steps two and three. In the case where the Board is not close to the business then the process should include just steps two and three. If the Board has members who do have broad business experience and understand the industry than participation upfront is often beneficial.

Board Involvement before the Strategic Planning Process Begins

Typically Board members work through the following steps:

Industry Scenario -- this allows Board members to give the strategic planning team their insight into industry trends.

Winner's Profile -- Board members may see characteristics of the Winner that team members may not see (Board members may have a better understanding of what a company will look like at $100 million than the team members of a $50 million company looking to grow to $100 million.).

Opportunities - to be evaluated -- the broader make-up of the Board may uncover additional opportunities to be researched.

Threats/Issues -- the Board members may have a broader vision of what the risks are in the business.

The Board should be providing guidelines and suggestions rather than edicts. The senior management team should then use the input as they work on the strategic plan. Some ideas may be incorporated into the strategic plan -- others, while considered, may not make it into the plan. This does not mean that the ideas were not good, it just means that with limited resources the team had to select the few items to work on rather than choosing a large number and becoming unfocused.

This is a general format for Board involvement before the process begins -- however, due to the individual nature of a Board's relationship with the senior management team we continue to work with companies to design programs that work for their specific requirements. The key thought is that Board members often have wide ranging experience and you need to ask yourself the question: How can we best leverage their expertise when developing a strategic plan?

Denise Harrison is Vice President of the Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. She can be reached at

© Copyright 2009 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI -- Reprint permission granted with full attribution.